Photographs taken around Townsville on 30 March 2020 show the effects of the coronavirus lockdown. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Photographs taken around Townsville on 30 March 2020 show the effects of the coronavirus lockdown. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

Crime loosens grip on city as virus laws set in

The tight grip of crime has loosened from around Townsville as new police statistics show a moment of reprieve for the city's police as they battle to adapt to coronavirus enforcement.

Queensland Police data shows crime has decreased 26 per cent in the last month with the region's new top police officer attributing the decline to more than just COVID-19 government regulations.

Assistant Commissioner for Northern Region Brett Schafferius said it was extremely difficult to pin point one explanation for the drop, but welcomed it "with open arms".

Brett Schafferius has been announced as Assistant Commissioner of Northern Queensland.
Brett Schafferius has been announced as Assistant Commissioner of Northern Queensland.

The new data that dropped yesterday was in contrast with the state's annual crime statistics, which positioned Townsville towards the top of the highest number of offences per 100,000 people from 2018 to last year.

The region's most serious results included a rise in drug offences and robbery charges, which had a 150 per cent and 89 per cent increase respectively in the past nine years.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll announced the report findings yesterday and said the number of offences across the state had increased slightly, but the number of people committing the crimes had slowed.

 

 

 

This recidivist behaviour was a mirror of the issues happening at Townsville and an issue Mr Schafferius held high on his agenda, alongside working with Queensland Health to adapt to the ever-changing coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Schafferius said his team was adapting well to the added enforcement pressures amid COVID-19 despite the toll being widely criticised as being tough to police by existing officers.

"The greatest asset (for police) is the ability to be agile to adapt to whatever develops in our community … the work that they are doing I am extremely proud of," he said.

"The whole event is evolving quite rapidly on a day-to-day basis and we will provide whatever assistance is requited."

Mr Schafferius said the majority of the Townsville community had been adhering to outdoor and indoor gathering rules and no penalties had been dished out yet.

He said the future crime curve was "impossible" to predict but his experience working in the North equipped him with the knowledge of combating the crime scourge.

Police Minister Mark Ryan warned people to obey the social-distancing laws and "pay attention" or police would slap them with a fine.

Originally published as Crime loosens grip on city as virus laws set in


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